County Durham TV chef raises cash online to open Bishop Auckland restaurant

Mike Bartley hopes to open his new restaurant "Jörd" on Newgate Street next year. Credit: Cellar Door Architecture

A County Durham chef who found fame on a TV cooking competition has revealed plans to open his own restaurant in Bishop Auckland.

Mike Bartley, who featured on the 2021 series of BBC MasterChef, has unveiled plans to open his new restaurant Jörd in the centre of Bishop Auckland.

A crowd fundraiser organised to kickstart the project has surpassed its target of £35,000.

Artist's impression of the plans. Credit: Cellar Door Architecture

Following his appearance on television, Mr Bartley interned in Michelin-star kitchens before launching a private-dining business called Djam Kitchen. His aim was to bring restaurant-quality dishes to people in their own homes.

He has since had residencies in various venues and exhibited at North East food festivals.

Mike said: “I have loved being a private chef over the past two years. But a restaurant has always been in the back of my mind and when I heard about this opportunity, I knew it was the right time to take the leap.”

Jörd (pronounced ‘you-rd’) is the Norse goddess of the Earth and literally translates to ‘land’ or ‘soil’ in several Scandinavian languages.

The name was chosen to highlight the connection between his cooking style and the land around the restaurant, using ingredients that are foraged and locally grown.

Mike's signature dish, Earl Grey panna cotta will feature on the menu. Credit: Handout

He said: “A strong connection to the land is so important for me. Not only are ingredients at their freshest when they are harvested on the same day that they are served, but the quality is far superior to supermarket produce.

"My food waste is turned into compost, which feeds the next batch of crops and creates a perpetual cycle of sustainability.”

The restaurant will be on Newgate Street and is part of a £12m scheme to regenerate neglected high street buildings and brownfield land.

Plans include the restoration of the current Tudor-style facade of the existing building, while the rear of the site is set to be transformed into a modern multi-level premises complete with outdoor terraces and views of newly created green spaces.

The Newgate Street premises earmarked for the restaurant. Credit: Cellar Door Architecture

Mr Bartley said: “I try to steer away from the term ‘fine dining’ when describing my food because I think it evokes notions of inaccessibility and opulence.

He added: “I’d like to think my food is elevated in flavour and appearance, but in a way that can be enjoyed by everyone."

He also aims to work with students from local colleges to provide training and hands-on restaurant experience at Jörd.

To help launch Jörd in 2024, he started a crowdfunding campaign to raise £35,000, which surpassed it's target ahead of deadline and has currently raised over £38,000.

Each donation comes with a pledge such as discounted tasting menu experiences and having your name appear on a "founder" wall in the finished restaurant.

Supporters can still donate to the crowdfunding campaign until October 27th.

Mr Bartley said: “My aim is for Jörd to be a place where diners would feel comfortable and trust us with their most special occasions, and the quality of the fit-out needs to reflect this.

"All money raised will go towards maximising the potential of the restaurant as an addition to my existing capital.”

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